Generally, an author gets on the New York Times Bestsellers list by selling a lot of copies of a book. The New York Times list compiles its data from Nielson BookScan and sales figures from bookstores. The list covers an average of 75 percent of bookstores, but that figure can vary quite a bit.
Although there is no other way to get on the New York Times Bestsellers list aside from achieving high sales figures, authors can boost their chances of getting on the list in a number of ways.
First of all, they can make books available for pre-order. When books are pre-ordered, those orders are added to the first week of sales, even if they were technically sold before the book launched.
Authors can also time the book launch when there are fewer competitors in the market. This means that there are fewer books vying for customers. However, authors should note that competition can sometimes be low because of sales slumps, which can work against their sales figures.
In addition, authors can make a big push for publicity and concentrate their publicity efforts around specific periods of time such as book launches. Because the New York Times only counts certain stores in its Bestsellers list figures, authors may want to offer their books and do publicity events at those stores.